Jacksonville Center Journey
One desire in 2008 started the journey of Jacksonville Center. With sincere bhaav from a few Mahatmas, Pujyashree came to Jacksonville, Florida in 2009 for this city’s first Gnan Vidhi. Pujyashree’s presence and Dada Bhagwan’s blessings paved the path for a center to be formed and in no time, Jacksonville Center came to be.
In the beginning, there were only two dedicated Mahatmas in Jacksonville but their bhaav to spread Dada’s teachings was unimaginable. In order to spread awareness of the Dada Bhagwan Organization, Mahatma Shirishbhai came to conduct a Satsang for boosting the Center in February 2008. With an attendance of about 140 people, the potential to form a Center in this city was indeed visible. The next step was to find a way for these mumukshus to meet Pujyashree, so word was spread about a Gnan Vidhi that would be held that year in Atlanta. This jump started the first series of biweekly Satsangs which progressed to weekly Satsangs.
With the visible growth in number of Mahatmas in Jacksonville by the end of 2008, the bhaav to invite Pujyashree to the city only grew more. In 2009, Pujyashree took his first steps in Jacksonville during a Shibir held at Landmark Middle School. Prachaar had started with the help of other organizations within the city a year prior and brought around 350 people to attend Gnan Vidhi. With Pujayshree’s blessings, this Shibir marked a turning point for the city. After this Shibir, Jacksonville Center hosted Pujyashree for five years in a row.
All these positive milestones helped build and increase the number of Satsang attendees to an average of 20 to 25 Mahatmas every week. Some booster Satsangs were also arranged with Mahatmas Vinodbhai and Shirishbhai. Along with weekly Satsangs, other events such as Jacksonville’s annual Dadai Garba which continues at moment, and weekly WMHT and MMHT Satsangs we also organized. Seeing such a response and growth after the first Shibir in 2009, Jacksonville was in for nothing but surprises as the years went by. To top it off, in 2013 Jacksonville was announced as the venue for hosting the 2013 Guru Purnima.
In preparation for the 2013 Guru Purnima, a lot of dedication and seva bhaav was shown by all the Mahatmas around the city. Prachaar spread the word out about when and where Guru Purnima would be held, Mahatmas started planning what would be served at each meal, and every detail was covered before Pujayshree’s arrival. To help the prachaar further, Jacksonville hosted an Aptaputra visit in the spring of 2013 which became an annual visit thereafter to help spread Dada’s teachings. This greatly encouraged more mahatmas to attend the different types of Shibirs that take place within the United States during the summer months.
During Guru Purnima 2013, the strength of Jacksonville Center was seen. All Mahatmas, and several friends came together to host Pujyashree during such an auspicious time and the blessings the city received were unimaginable. But this was just the beginning. The center became more involved in regional Shibir planning, and Jacksonville Mahatmas started attending more events held by nearby centers. Mahatmas started becoming more involved regionally and nationally helping them increase their use of Gnan through Seva.
As the years went by, Jacksonville continued to remain a strong center and was given another opportunity to host the 2018 Guru Purnima. This Guru Purnima was like no other. GP 2018 marked another milestone not just for Jacksonville but for the Dada Bhagwan Parivaar. This year, the focus was to increase youth involvement in Seva. GP 2018 marked the first year YMHT+ helped the Southeast Region plan Guru Purnima in almost all the departments. 2018 marked the year of Seva for all youths. From the stage decoration team to the hospitality team, the YMHT+ along with the YMHT Mahatmas assisted to make sure each department was prepared for Pujyashree’s arrival. Seva at this level was not seen before and this Guru Purnima helped make sure every youth felt like they were part of the Dada Bhagwan Parivaar.
Jacksonville may be a small Center and may not have grown continuously in the number of Satsang attendees, but it has had some unforgettable milestones for the city to remember as well as the entire Dada Parivaar. The Center plans to increase Satsang and retreat events to involve the LMHT and YMHT attendance. Seva has become a good avenue to increase involvement and with Dada’s blessings, Jacksonville Center will continue to be a nimit in Dada’s Jagat Kalyan mission.